Skip to Content

Book Review: "How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success", by Dale Carnegie

Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:31

The advice in this book is fairly vague from a business management perspective, but extremely detailed for a description of one sentence. The only sentence that is really needed is the advice found in Luke 6:31, the Golden Rule. So you don't even need the above sentence, just say “Golden Rule” and you should be good. No? Maybe it's how you interpret the Golden Rule. Some people put a twist on it and say that the people who have the gold make the rules. This book puts a twist on it and says if you follow the Golden Rule, you'll mint gold.

I've been getting a better heuristic for determining whether a book is a true classic, or will become one. Each book I've found interesting has been written out of necessity, and has grown more or less organically. Dale Carnegie's book is no different. Developed and refined over fifteen years worth of lessons and pamphlets and booklets, every word is crafted with precision and meaning. I haven't found one that has been disagreeable with me. Carnegie understands that being accepted and liked by our peers is one of humanity's basest cravings, and thus has found no need in order to keep the reader interested. However, he does make a strong point in reinforcing each lesson with examples, and giving people lessons in how to digest and live these lessons in their everyday lives. In this sense, the classic lives on through people.

However good this book is, there still remain a number of facts that may make you pause before implementing all of its suggestions in every situation. One thing that is patently obvious is that the author, his courses, and this book cater to working professionals, as a manner of interacting with other working professionals. There are examples of interacting with a significant other or with your children. However, that is not the focal audience of the book. I seriously doubt that I will always treat a child in the manner the book suggests, for the fear that the kid will be spoiled. The book rides a fine balance in intentions, between being genuine and getting what you want. The whole point of this book is that by being your best self, you will gain the results you desire. To do this successfully, you should avoid tying your true self to the nature of getting what you want, which is rather paradoxical advice, and hard to follow precisely.

To be a successful person, you need to be able to accept what the world and your lesser selves throw at you, and present to the world the best version of yourself. Far too frequently, people let daily frustrations and thorns grind down their self-worth and their personality until they become sallow, hollow, and wasted. I am very much guilty of this as well, owing in part to my last job, my status and self-judgement in my current job, and my fears and uncertainties and desire for procastration weighing on my progress. I understand that only by being an anchor in society, steadfast in happiness and optimism, can I truly succeed in my path forward. I have this book in part to thank for that.